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Seven European games postponed in December cancelled by organisers


Heineken Cup

Seven matches across the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup which were postponed in December because of French government travel restrictions have been cancelled.

They will be classed as 0-0s, with teams getting two match points.

Tournament organisers EPCR had hoped to play the games at a later date.

But it said, “in an increasingly complex fixture calendar due to Covid-19, it was regrettably decided the only choice was to cancel the matches”.

“The round two matches were initially postponed following the unforeseen introduction of new travel measures between the UK and France which resulted in EPCR being unable to obtain assurances that existing cross-border travel exemptions for players, club staff and match officials would remain,” added EPCR.

Games called off because of Covid outbreaks remain 28-0 defeats for the side who could not fulfil the fixture so Montpellier’s win against Leinster stands, as does the victory awarded to Racing 92 over Ospreys and Bristol’s win over Scarlets.

“A distinction should be drawn between the decisions in respect of the seven round two matches in question and other tournament fixtures which were previously cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreaks or forced isolations affecting player availability,” said the EPCR statement.

“Those previously cancelled fixtures could not have been played as scheduled under any circumstances, whereas the clubs involved in the round two matches in question were all cleared and available to contest the matches.

“Therefore, the determined outcomes of the three previously cancelled or forfeited Heineken Champions Cup fixtures, and the one EPCR Challenge Cup fixture, will stand.”

Cancelled matches

Champions Cup

Bath Rugby v La Rochelle

Sale Sharks v Clermont Auvergne

Scarlets v Bordeaux-Begles

Toulouse v Wasps

Stade Francais v Bristol Bears

Challenge Cup

Worcester Warriors v Biarritz

London Irish v Brive

Analysis

Chris Jones, BBC rugby union correspondent

EPCR’s original plan to re-arrange all seven matches always seemed ambitious given the fixture congestion and the precarious nature of cross-border sport during the pandemic.

One option would have been to remove one of the legs from the round of 16 in April to make room for the games to be re-played, but this would have meant altering the tournament format for the second season running, while that would also have depended on rounds three and four going smoothly, which is no guarantee.

However things have improved since December, when the French government had almost completely shut down travel from the UK, and there remains hope quarantine rules can be waived to ensure UK teams are able to travel to France this weekend to fulfil their round-three fixtures and keep the wobbling tournaments on track.

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